Prison should have two key purposes, punishment and rehabilitation, regrettably we fail miserably to rehabilitate. Our aim should be to reintroduce a prisoner to society as a properly functioning component of that society which means them being similar as much as is possible to other members of society for our efforts to be successful. It is normal and desirable for parents to have close and caring relationships with their children, prison makes this aim exceedingly difficult with the father/mother being absent from the home, this absence alone makes for a complex situation for all; but above all for the innocent children.
It is imperative therefore that society makes suitable provision for these children to lead as normal a life as it is possible to have. This; as any parent will tell you can provide hurdles for the parent to surmount, not least of which relates to their capacity to ensure that the child does not suffer unduly by not having the wherewithal to be part of their peer group; this is more often than not the norm when a parent is incarcerated. To help a prisoner re-enter society and rebuild ties with his/her family, backing is required, in particular relation to those children. For these reasons I strongly support the morality and principles behind the private members bill in the name of Labour MSP Mary Fee entitled, “Support for Children of Prisoners”.
This bill is a step in the direction of improving the results provided by our prison system which are, despite the best efforts of many dedicated workers quite candidly appalling. The rates of recidivism are massive. This creates what has become known as “the prison revolving door scandal”, this describes the prisoner returning to prison to serve repeat sentences for repeat crimes which often causes the prisoner to be lost to society through becoming institutionalised. In many many cases that cycle is contributed to by the prisoners not being able to re-establish close caring relationships with their children thus resulting in damage to the prisoner and his/her family. I am convinced and so are the majority of penal experts that while proper rehabilitation is a long and expensive business, in the long term it would provide a net gain to society in terms of finance and a generally more civilised and happy environment.
I urge those of you who share this view to write to your MSP’S and ask them to support MSP Mary Fee’s bill “SUPPORT FOR CHILDREN OF PRISONERS”.